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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

A   HERMIT   IN   THE   HIMALAYAS

book was slowly and laboriously produced. A boy lama was working
as his apprentice, to succeed the old man when he died. The finished
books were well-made and exceedingly attractive. They were
printed on Lhasa-made paper of three qualities: common, superior,
and royal superfine. Books produced in the last edition had very
thick strong paper and all the letters were printed in gold.

"When we were nearing Taklakot we were overtaken by night
and lost our way in the darkness. As we wandered helplessly a
stalwart Tibetan rushed at us with a big dagger in his hand. He
knocked my fellow disciple to the ground and then thrust the edge
of his dagger against my neck, shouting at the same time, 'Who are
you?' I answered gravely, feeling my last moment had come, eWe
are poor sadhus (Hindu holy men). We do not fear your dagger or
your threats.' Thereupon our attacker burst into peals of roaring
laughter. When he calmed down he said that he would not hurt us.
He explained that meeting us unexpectedly, he decided to play a
practical joke upon us! Tibetan sense of humour is very peculiar!

"At the foot of a mountain six miles from Lake Manasrowar we
reached the beautiful monastery of Punri. The walls were painted
white and the tops were decorated with brilliant red borders. We
slept there for the night and in the morning a young Lama conducted
us to the library. Every monastery in Tibet possesses its own ancient
Sanskrit library. Books are sometimes included, brought there more
than a thousand years ago by Buddhist monks fleeing from perse-
cution in India, In the Punri library there were magnificent images
of sacred Buddhist personages placed on raised platforms amongst
the old books. Many valuable paintings done in Chinese style upon
silken scrolls hung upon the walls.

"Our guide led us to a recess in the walls which was heavily
curtained upon both sides and sheltered by a gorgeous silken canopy.
As all the windows of the library hall were hung with silk veilings,
there was only a dim light in the place, except for two tiny butter-
fed lamps which Burned before this recess, and it took us a minute
or two to realize that a figure placed upon a raised platform
inside the recess was not a mere statue like the other figures, but
a living man. And quite a young man. In fact, we were told that
he was only sixteen years old and that he was the Head Lama or
Abbot of the entire monastery highly honoured by both senior and
junior monks, and deeply respected by the common folk. As you
know, the Grand Lama of Tibet as well as the Head Lamas of
important monasteries are selected by Councils who search for
the reincarnation of the deceased Lama. They are found as infants
and then carefully educated for their high office. In the case
of this young Abbot of Punri Monastery, he had had a number of

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